Sanlúcar de Barrameda lies just 25km to the north-west of Jerez de la Frontera and is easily reached by road on the A480. Together with Jerez and El Puerto de Santa María, Sanlúcar de Barrameda forms part of the famous ‘Sherry Triangle’ of Cádiz which is home to some of Spain’s most famous wineries. The town is best-known for its production of Manzanilla Sherry whose distinctive salty taste is due to the moisture the local vines collect from the Atlantic sea breezes. The town is also known for its superb seafood which is considered to be amongst some of the best in Spain.
Main Sights: Sanlúcar de Barrameda has a history dating back to the ancient Tartessian civilization and has been inhabited by the Phoenicians, Romans and Moors. The town’s historic centre is a maze of narrow streets and whitewashed houses where visitors can wander amongst numerous tourist attractions. These include the Gothic Church of Nuestra Señora de la O, the Castle of Santiago which was built by the Moors in the 10th century and the magnificent Renaissance Palace of the Dukes of Medina Sidonia.
Bodegas: Sanlúcar is famous for its production of Manzanilla, a type of sherry which acquires a unique flavour from being produced close to the sea. The town is home to several bodegas including Bodegas La Guita, Bodegas Barbadillo and Bodegas La Cigarrera. Visitors can take tours of these bodegas and learn about the history and production of Manzanilla sherry in Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
After a bodega visit it’s a great experience to take a wander through the old town which is home to plenty lively bars and restaurants. Here you’ll rub shoulders with friendly locals who are extremely partial to a glass or two of Manzanilla or a bottle of the excellent Barbadillo white wine.
Beaches: As is the case with much of the Cádiz coastline, Sanlúcar is home to several beaches with fabulous golden sand. The most popular ones include the town-beach of Playa de Bajo de Guía and Playa de las Piletas which hosts the annual horse races in August. The beaches tend to be very quiet most of the time but attract mainly Spanish tourists during the summer months.
Seafood: On arrival from Jerez de la Frontera you’ll see signs for ‘Bajo de Guía’. This is the seafront overlooking Doñana National Park where the best seafood restaurants are to be found. Casa Bigote is probably the most famous of these eateries where a range of fried fish dishes are the most popular.
When ordering fish dishes that don’t show a price you might see “s/m” on the menu. This means that the price is charged according to weight at today’s fish market prices. Many tourists have been caught out by this pricing method and are unpleasantly surprised when the bill arrives.
Other Things to Do in Sanlúcar de Barrameda
Visit Doñana National Park
Across the water from Bajo de Guía you can see Doñana National Park which is a fascinating ecosystem made up of beaches, dunes, wetlands and pine forest. It is home to many aquatic birds as well as endangered species such as the Spanish imperial eagle and the Iberian lynx. You can visit Doñana by taking a boat which leaves from Bajo de Guía and travels 13km up the Guadilquivir River as far as Las Salinas. Here you disembark and take a guided walk before returning to Bajo de Guía.
Tickets are available for these guided tours of Doñana National Park from the visitor’s centre which is located inside the ice factory (fabrica de hielo) at Bajo de Guía. Specialised birdwatching tours are also available.
Horse Racing Festival in Sanlúcar de Barrameda
A novel time to visit Sanlúcar de Barrameda is in August when the Sanlúcar Horse Races (Carreras de caballos de Sanlúcar) take place. These races take place on the beach with big bucks gambled on the results. The first unofficial race documented were over 200 years ago when horse owners whose animals were used to carrying fish and seafood to local markets from the old port of Bajo de Guía raced one another along the sand. The first official races were in 1845. The races take place twice during the month of August with each “meeting” lasting three days. Dates are set to coincide with low tides but also ensuring that there is enough sunlight for evening races.